Young leaders call on governments to stop ‘youth washing’

A group of young people will state that national, European and international leaders must engage more meaningfully with youth organisations and young activists, or risk young people becoming opposed to established politics.

Representatives from the group of 18 young people aged between 18 and 30 years from the UK, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Poland will join an event led by the British Council on 26 May.

They will put recommendations to policy makers – among them Fabiana Dadone, Italian Minister for Youth Policies; Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO; Terry Reintke, MEP; and Anne O’Donnell, Lead at the ‘Youth Hub’ Hub na nÓg at the Irish Department for Children.

They will be joined by members of organisations including Thomas Matthew of the European Youth Forum, and Eva Reina, Director of the European Youth Information and Counselling Agency ERYICA.

In addition to political participation, the recommendations cover issues identified by the group as the most important for their generation at local, national, and international levels. They will discuss how Covid-19 has affected their peer groups and advise on the post-pandemic priorities of young people.

They come following the ‘Youth Pledge’ issued by the European Youth Forum and other youth organisations at the Porto Summit on 7 May this year, which called on leaders to commit to placing youth rights at the centre of all social policies at an EU and national level.

The recommendations and event will also respond to findings in the British Council’s ‘Next Generation’ report series, which gathered the opinions of hundreds of young people from countries including Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland and the UK on a wide range of youth issues from employment to education to their local and international political and social engagement.

The reports show that young people across Europe are fully aware of the challenges that face them, and that significant groups exist in all countries who are willing and able to take control of their lives and support others.

Maria Nomikou, Lead for Youth Policy at the British Council in EU Europe, said: ‘Addressing the challenges of youth unemployment, empowerment and opportunity are stated priorities for European countries individually, for the EU and the UK.

Evidence also suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to affect young people more severely in the short- and long-term than any other age bracket.

‘At the British Council, we work with young people who are fully aware of the challenges that face them, and we believe that it is only by sharing and learning across generations that society can truly move forward. We see the first steps out of the pandemic as a golden opportunity to work together across ages and countries to build a better future.’

The event, Stronger together: Working with European youth will be held online on 26 May at 14.30 CET. Registration is free.

More information and registration are available on the British Council’s website.

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